Feeding a horse can be a real challenge especially if the horse has health challenges. Once you have found a horse feeding plan that is just perfect you of course don’t want to change anything. The problem with this is that feed for horses in the wild is varied and always has multiple choices and flavors.
Some horses will tolerate the same feed day in and day out but others get bored and either turn down what is offered or look for variety in undesirable places like fences or trees. Horses in a native grass pasture will rarely chew on trees because they have weeds and leaves to munch on but a confined horse can chew through a fence rail or ring the bark off a tree in record time.
A horse feeding rut can be remedied with some safe foods offered occasionally in small amounts. Unless your horse has severe metabolic challenges small pieces of carrots and/or apples can be added to the feed several days a week. Particularly dry, hot or cold days can be made more bearable by a few cups of wheat bran mixed into a mash instead of the horse’s usual feed. Soaked beet pulp can be used instead of bran if the horse has insulin resistance problems.
Seeds such as pumpkin, chia, or flax can be added to the feed for horses to give natural beneficial omega 3 fatty acids on occasion even if cost does not allow for them to be a regular part of your horse feeding program. The salty flavor of kelp might be a nice addition occasionally on a hot summer day or added to the feed for horses more regularly in the fall and winter to help the body adapt to the cold weather.
Most horses love the taste of alfalfa so a handful or so sprinkled over the horses feed or hay can be met with excitement. If you really want to turn your horse into a health nut sprout him some barley or alfalfa and give him a few handfuls. For a horse that does not have access to any live foods in a pasture the sprouted foods offer valuable enzymes as well as great taste.
If all else fails cook up a nice bowl of oatmeal with a generous spoonful of black strap molasses. Throw in a few carrot or apples chunks and you will have your horse focused on watching the feed room door rather than seeking out your best trees.
With a little imagination you can add variety to your horses diet without abandoning a feeding program that is working well. If you are like me you may get bored with feeding the same thing every day and occasionally offering a treat with dinner can overcome the temptation to change an overall good horse feeding plan.